Excerpts: Syrian exodus to Jordan continues. Big Arab-Iran dispute
rekindled April 20, 2012
+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 20 April ’12:”UN reports rise in refugees as Syrian
exodus to Jordan continues”by Taylor Luck
SUBJECT: Syrian exodus to Jordan continues
QUOTE:”total number of Syrians who have crossed into Jordan since March 2011
FULL TEXT:AMMAN/MAFRAQ — The number of registered Syrian refugees in Jordan
has topped 12,000, the UN reported on Thursday, as displaced people
continued to pour into the Kingdom over the northern border.
In a weekly report released yesterday, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR)
confirmed that 12,500 Syrians had come forward to receive assistance from
the agency, a number officials expect to reach 15,000 by the end of the
UN officials acknowledged that registrations were unrepresentative of the
total number of Syrians in need of assistance in Jordan, which local NGOs
place at over 30,000.
In face of the anticipated rise in registrations, UN officials say UNHCR is
set to revise an $84 million appeal launched last month to provide health,
food and cash assistance to the growing refugee community.
The original appeal’s amount reserved for Jordan — some $40 million — will
cover a “fraction” of the estimated needs of the rapidly growing refugee
community, UNHCR Representative in Jordan Andrew Harper said in previous
statements to The Jordan Times.
The report comes amidst an influx of Syrian refugees to Jordan in the days
since the announcement of a UN-brokered ceasefire last Thursday, which
according to local aid organisations has reached a pace of over 500 per day.
Officials at Al Kitab and Sunna Society, one of the largest charitable
organisations concerned with Syrians in Jordan, said over 7,000 refugees
have crossed the border illegally in the last week, an influx that according
to officials has pushed the total number of Syrians who have crossed into
Jordan since March 2011 to 100,000.
The vast majority of new arrivals come from Homs and Idlib, which have been
the epicentres of ceasefire violations by the regime of Bashar Assad, which
refugees claim range from aerial bombardments of residential areas to the
dispatch of “death squads”.
“There has never been a ceasefire; instead of getting better, the security
situation has gotten much worse since the Annan plan,” said Ahmed Homsi, a
42-year-old Homs resident who crossed into the Kingdom on Tuesday.
According to Syrian activists residing in Jordan, the number of Syrians
camped out in the border region has reached 5,000 as Damascus continues to
impose a six-week-old border clampdown barring civilians from entering the
Despite following an open-border policy, Amman continues to resist opening
refugee camps out of fear of Damascus misinterpreting humanitarian
assistance as official support for revolutionaries.
+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 20 April ’12:”Tiny Gulf islands rekindle big
Arab-Iran dispute”, Associated Press
SUBJECT: ‘Big Arab-Iran dispute rekindled
QUOTE: ”the political temperature has been rising”
FULL TEXT:TEHRAN — There would seem to be enough points of tension to keep
Iran and its Gulf Arab rivals fully occupied: Tehran's nuclear programme,
accusations of Iranian meddling in Bahrain's uprising, Iranian threats to
block Gulf oil shipping lanes. But it's all been overshadowed by three
contested islands that Iran wants to turn into a tourist draw.
For more than a week, the political temperature has been rising since
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a surprise visit to the Gulf
outpost Abu Musa, the largest in the three-island cluster controlled by Iran
but also claimed by the United Arab Emirates.
On Thursday, Iran's ground forces commander spoke for the first time about
the readiness to defend the tiny islands between Iran and the UAE.
"We will not allow any country to carry out an invasion," Gen. Ahmad Reza
Pourdastan was quoted as saying on state TV. "If these disturbances are not
solved through diplomacy, the military forces are ready to show the power of
Iran to the offender. Iran will strongly defend its rights."
It appeared to be a reply to Tuesday's [17 April]statement by senior Gulf
officials pledging full support to the UAE and saying any "aggressions"
would be considered an act against the entire six-nation bloc, known as the
Gulf Cooperation Council, which is led by Iran's main regional foe Saudi
Despite the tough talk, the chances of armed conflict still seem very
But the rumblings were enough for Washington to take notice. State
Department spokesman Mark Toner urged Tuesday[17 April] for a "peaceful
resolution" of the dispute through international mediation, but noted that a
visit like Ahmadinejad's last week "only complicate efforts to settle the
The motivations are still unclear for Ahmadinejad's trip — the first by an
Iranian head of state to Abu Musa since it came under Tehran's control in
1971. But it suddenly turned a normally back-burner Gulf dispute into a
The UAE recalled its ambassador to Iran and hammered Tehran with harshly
worded declarations that were in stark contrast to the usual cautious tones
from Abu Dhabi on regional affairs. After the UAE cancelled an exhibition
football match with Iran, the head of the UAE's football federation quipped:
"A friendly match should be between friends."
Abu Musa sits like a sentinel over the western edge of the Strait of Hormuz
at the mouth of the Gulf, the route for one-fifth of the world's oil supply.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards and US Navy warships patrol the narrow waterway,
which Iran had threatened to choke off in retaliation for tougher Western
sanctions over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
Iran took control of Abu Musa and two nearby islands — the Greater and
Lesser Tunbs — after British forces left the region. Tehran maintains that
an agreement signed eight years before its 1979 Islamic Revolution between
the shah and the ruler of one of the UAE's seven emirates, Sharjah, gives it
the right to administer Abu Musa and station troops there.
There was no agreement on the other two islands. The UAE insists they
belonged to the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah until Iran captured them by force
days before the UAE statehood in 1971.
Days after Ahmadinejad's visit, Iran's official news agency IRNA described
plans to turn Abu Musa into a tourist centre and a showcase for Persian
culture. Tehran claims the Gulf islands have been part of states that
flourished on the Iranian mainland from antiquity until the early 20th
This brought a fresh barrage of outrage from the UAE.
"This visit will not change the legal status of these islands which are part
and parcel of the UAE national soil," said the UAE's foreign minister,
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Iranian lawmaker Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash, a member of the parliament's
influential national security committee, fired back that the UAE was once
part of the ancient Persian empire. "Iran has the power" to make the UAE pay
for its demands over the islands, he told the Ya Lesarat weekly in Tehran.
An Iranian political analyst, Mohammad Ali Mohatadi, interpreted
Ahmadinejad's foray to Abu Musu as part of internal political battles. Over
the past year Ahmadinejad has challenged the ruling clerics over the extent
of presidential power. Iran's foreign ministry, which has always handled
sensitive issues such as the disputed islands, is controlled by Supreme
Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rather than Ahmadinejad.
"This is linked to the internal competitions," said Mohatadi, a member of
the Tehran-based Centre for Strategic Studies of the Middle East. "Everybody
is trying to express his idea on the case to show that he is more active.
The remarks have no purpose. It is serving the other side, mostly."
The UAE's official news agency WAM carried a biting editorial from the Gulf
Today newspaper Thursday[19 April] that called Ahmadinejad's Abu Musa trip
"an unmistakably provocative gesture".
"The status quo cannot be allowed to continue," it said. "Iran should
realise that its behaviour — as if no such problem exists — will not make
the standoff disappear. The UAE is determined to regain its legitimate
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA